Saturday 14 December 2019

Trump threatens 20pc tax on Mexican goods to pay for wall

Donald Trump arrives aboard Air Force One at Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia
Donald Trump arrives aboard Air Force One at Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia

Nick Allen in Washington

Mexico may be forced to pay for the building of a wall between itself and America through an aggressive 20pc tax on all its exports to the United States, the White House said last night.

As Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto refused to fund the estimated $15bn (€14bn) cost of the wall, Mr Trump vowed to renegotiate the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement.

He said: “The US has a $60bn trade deficit with Mexico. It has been a one-sided deal from the beginning.”

His spokesman Sean Spicer later said there were plans to “tax imports from countries that we have a trade deficit from, like Mexico”.

He added: “If you tax at 20pc of imports, by doing it that way we can do $10bn a year and easily pay for the wall just through that mechanism alone. That’s really going to provide the funding.”

Mr Nieto yesterday cancelled a summit with Mr Trump in Washington next Tuesday as relations between the two countries plunged to a new low.

A multi-billion dollar border wall was a signature campaign promise by Mr Trump and he signed an executive order on Wednesday indicating it would be built, with Mexico paying for it. Mr Nieto replied that Mexico would not pay, leading Mr Trump to say on Twitter: “If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.”

Within hours Mr Nieto did pull out.

The row signalled a souring of relations between the US and its southern neighbour.  Mexico is one of America’s largest trading partners and shares a border with it of nearly 3,200km.

It came as a group of four senior foreign service career diplomats with 150 years’ combined experience reportedly resigned from the US State Department. They included Patrick F Kennedy, the undersecretary for management.

Meanwhile, officials at several government agencies including Nasa and the Environmental Protection Agency, started “rogue” social media accounts to speak out against the Trump administration, particularly on the issue of climate change.

Human rights groups have expressed alarm over Mr Trump’s decision to publish a weekly list of crimes committed by immigrants in the US, saying the “shocking” and “xenophobic” move will “terrorise communities across the US”.

The US president issued an executive order on Wednesday titled Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, which signed into law many of his most extreme immigration policies.

It included an instruction that the Secretary for Homeland Security should “on a weekly basis, make public a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens” in the US.

The list will also name so-called “sanctuary cities” that are refusing to hand over immigrant residents for deportation.

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News